'Sucker Punch': Just a bad dream

Posted: March 24, 2011

In "Sucker Punch," a purported wise man says that we should never write checks with our mouth that we cannot cash with our butts.

It's like something Confucius might have said, if Confucius were Charlie Sheen. In which case he would have tweeted it.

At any rate, it's nonsensical and demented, as befits Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch," set in an insane asylum where a young woman (Emily Browning) is involuntarily committed after being framed for the murder of her little sister (a crime we are unprivileged to witness in the prologue).

At the asylum, a psychiatrist with a corny Russian accent (Carla Gugino) advises the female patients/inmates (Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone) to achieve mental peace by using their imaginations.

Good advice, thinks the new girl, and when she's threatened with a lobotomy, she retreats to her subconscious - where, happily for Snyder and Warner Bros. and hordes of teen boys, she imagines herself in a brothel/burlesque house, surrounded by hot babes in underwear.

Help me out here, ladies - is this really where your mind would go? Wouldn't you rather see yourself in, say, the Bahamas with newly single actor Bradley Cooper applying suntan oil to your shoulders?

Browning becomes Baby Doll, the R.P. McMurphy of the joint, devising a plan to help the girls escape their sleazy cuckoo's nest. She does a provocative dance, distracting the drooling male staff while the girls round up keys and knives and other stuff for their escape.

While in her dance trance, Baby Doll enters a second level of dreaming, allowing Snyder to stage a series fantasy/action trips wherein the girls battle Chinese warriors, Nazis, robots and dragons.

Because these action sequences are so pulverizingly dull and derivative (the fight moves haven't changed since "The Matrix"), they help kill Snyder's movie and also his theme - the power of the mind to free the soul of the individual.

Though they do pose an interesting question: What will you be fantasizing about when you're trying to liberate your mind from Snyder's oppressive, ugly, fun-free movie?

It's Snyder's first stab at original material (with help from Steve Shibuya), and you can't fault him for ambition. He quotes from classic Hollywood movies (like "The Wizard of Oz"), and wants to pay homage to their transportive power.

But with all of his green-screen, CGI, treated-image technology, all Snyder does here is transport the audience into the middle of a pretty lame video game.

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